Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin (R) signed a bill into law Wednesday mandating that a person seeking an abortion must wait 72 hours for the procedure.
HB 1409, sponsored by Rep. Lisa Billy (R-Purcell), increased the waiting period for an abortion from 24 hours to 72 hours. Persons seeking an abortion now must satisfy all of the state’s requirements for mandatory counseling 72 hours before the procedure is performed.
Oklahoma is now the fourth state in the country—joining Missouri, South Dakota, and Utah—with a 72-hour waiting period.
In a statement released after signing the bill, Fallin said that the new law would give women more time to consider their decision. “This legislation will help women get the information they need before making a decision they can’t take back,” said Fallin. “It will allow for more time to consider medical risks as well as explore alternatives to abortion, such as adoption.”
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Reproductive rights advocates, responding to the news, disagreed. “It’s really about shame and the government trying to coerce a woman into delaying care she has already decided she needs,” Amanda Allen, state legislative counsel for the New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights, told the Oklahoman upon the bill’s passage. “The message that this bill really sends is that the Legislature and the government are second-guessing a woman’s ability to decide for herself.”
The new law also requires that the printed materials physicians are required to give to patients state, “Abortion shall terminate the life of a whole, separate, unique, living human being.” Clinics providing abortion care that maintain a website will also be required to include a link to the State Board of Medical Licensure and Supervision site, which provides these so-called informed consent materials.
Several bills have been introduced in state legislatures nationwide to create or increase waiting periods before a woman can seek abortion care. Republicans in the North Carolina house recently passed a 72-hour waiting period bill in a party-line vote, and the bill awaits a senate committee hearing.
Oklahoma lawmakers easily passed the bill in the Republican-dominated state legislature.
The new law will go into effect on November 1.